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Slinging tuneage like some fried or otherwise soused short-order cook

28 August 2011

An Unidentified Man

Something to listen to (& ponder) as you read:
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Harry Irene,
The Brown Star Sessions, bootleg 1972.
decryption code in comments

I wrote this when I learned my old friend Mother Jim, an alcoholic for many years, had committed suicide by hanging himself from a rail-yard trestle. An article in the local paper began,
"An unidentified man was found Thursday night hanging from the Fourth Street Railroad bridge. Cause of death was apparently suicide."

An Unidentified Man

A philosophical dialectic featuring three players:
The Narrator (played here by Aleister Crowley)
Mother Jim

Narrator (seated on his resplendent throne) :
Not the thirst of the throat
Tho' that be the wildest & the worst
Of physical pangs---that smote
Alone to the heart of Christ,
Wringing the one wild cry,
"I thirst!" from His agony,
While the soldiers drank & diced.
Not the thirst benign
That calls the worker to wine.
Not the bodily thirst
(Tho’ that be a frenzy accursed)
When the mouth is full of sand,
& the eyes are gummed up, the ears
Trick the soul 'til it hears
Water...water at hand,
When a man will dig his nails
Into his breast & drink the blood
Already that clots & stales
E're his tongue can tip its flood,
When the sun is a living devil
Vomiting vats of evil,
& the moon & the night but mock
The wretch on his barren rock.
The dome of heaven high-arched
Like his mouth is arid & parched.
The caves of his heart high-spanned
Are choked with alkali sand.

Now this! but a thirst uncharted;
Body & soul alike
Traitors turned black-hearted,
Seeking a space to strike
In a victim already attuned
To one vast chord of wound.
Every separate bone cold,
An incarnate groan
Distilled from the icy sperm
Of Hell’s implacable worm.
Every drop of the river
Of blood aflame & aquiver
With poison secret & sour---
With a sudden twitch at the last
Like certain jagged daggers...

Mother Jim (rambling) :
With bloodshot eyes dull-glassed
The screaming Viet staggers
Through his village aghast.

Narrator (perturbed at being interrupted) :
So blood wrenches its pain
Sardonic through heart & brain.
Every separate nerve
Awake & alert, on a curve
Whose zenith’s name is "Never"
In a hyperbolic "Forever!"
A bitter & burning snake
Striking its venom within it,
As if it might serve to slake
The pain for the tithe of a minute.

Nathan (full of sound & fury, signifying nothing) :
Awake, forever awake!
Awake as one never is
While sleep is a possible end.
Awake in the void, the abyss
Whose thirst is but an echo of this.
That martyrs, worlds without end.
(World without end, Amen!)
The man that falters & yields
For the proverbs "giveth & taketh away"
To the lure of the grain-ripe fields
Where the alcohol sees its first day.

Only a sip from a glass
Charged from a Wizard’s well!
Is this sufficient to pass
A soul from Heaven to Hell?
Was human’s spirit weaned
To fawn at the feet of a fiend?
Is it so terribly odd---
The heir of ages of wonder,
The crown of earth for an hour,
The master of tide & thunder
Against alcohol’s power?
Aye, in the roar & the rattle
Of all the armies of sin,
This is the only battle
He never was known to win.

Slave to the thirst---not thirst
As here is so weakly written,
Not thirst in the brain black-bitten
In the soul more sorely smitten!
One dare not think of the worst!
Beyond the raging & the raving
Hell of a physical craving
Lies, in the brain benumbed,
At the end of time & space,
An abyss, immeasured, unplumbed---
The haunt of a face!

Mother Jim (in reverie of his true love, Alcohol) :
She it is, she, that found me
In the throes of my virginal honeymoon,
With silk & steel she bound me,
In her poisonous milk she drowned me,
Even now her arms surround me,
Stifling me into the swoon
That still---but oh, how rarely!---
Comes from that sip from that glass.
Steadily she stares & squarely,
Never needing to receive my pass.

(here he slips fluidly into the ease of non-corporeal 3rd person)
Her slave agasp for a kiss.
Her whose horror is his
That knows that viper womb,
Speckled & barred with black
On its rusty amber scales
His tomb---
The straining, groaning rack
On which he wails---he wails!
Her cranial dome is vaulted;
Her mad Mongolian eyes
Aslant with all the ecstacies
Of things immune, exalted
Far beyond stars & skies.
Slits of amber & jet---
Her snout for the quarry set.

(it seems as though he percieves clearly at last)
Her snout for the quarry set,
Fleshy & heavy & dross,
Bestial, broken across
& below it her mouth, it drips
Blood from her lips
That hide the fangs of a snake.
Drips down upon venomous udders
Mountainous flanks that fume & sweat.
The spirit sickens & shudders
At the hint of worse things yet.

Alky! the golden bait
Barbed with infinite pain.
Fatal, fanatical mate
Of a poisoned body & brain!
Alky! the name that leers
Its lecherous longing & knavery,
Whispers in crazing ears
The secret spell of her slavery.

(as if the memory of his slavery plunges him painfully back into his body in a maddening rush, he finds himself once more)

Horror indeed intense,
Seduction ever intenser,
Swinging the smoke of sense
From the bowl of a smouldering censer!
Behind me, behind & above
She stands, that mirror of love.
Her fingers are supple-jointed;
Her nails are polished & pointed,
Tipped with spurs of gold.
With them she plows my brain.
Her lust is critical, cold;
Her Chinese cheeks are pale
As she daintily picks, profane,
With her octopus lips & teeth,
Jagged & black beneath,
A morsel of pulp & blood she’s impailed.

One soothing drink was enough
In days gone by to invoke her.
She was incarnate love
In the hours when I first awoke her.
Little by little I found
The truth of her---stripped of her clothing,
Bitter beyond all bound,
Leprous beyond all loathing.
Black---the plague of the pit,
Her pustules visibly fester,
Cancerous kisses that bit
As the asp caressed her.

Nathan (final nothing) :
Dragon of lure & dread;
Tiger of fury & lust;
The quick in chains to the dead;
The slime alive in the dust.
Brazen shame like a flame,
An orgy of pregnant pollution
With hate beyond aim or name---
Orgasm, death, dissolution!
Know you now, dear brother, why her eyes
So fearfully glaze, beholding
Terrors & infamies
Like filthy flowers unfolding?
Laughter widowed of ease;
Agony barred from sadness;
Allison, sweet innocent child, robbed of peace---
Is not your she-devil madness?

Mother Jim (teen again, in the school yard, bristling at Nathan’s insult) :
She waits for me, lazily leering,
As moon goes murdering moon.
The moon of her triumph is nearing.
She will have me wholly soon.
& you, you Puritan other
Who missed the alcohol’s craving
Cry scorn if I call you brother---
Curl your lip at my maniac raving.
Fool, seven times beguiled.
You have not known her? Well!
That was never a need she smiled
To harry you into Hell!

Narrator (getting his sweater out of the closet & putting on his slippers, looking now like Mr. Rogers) :
Alcohol is but one spark of its secular fire.
She is the single sum-type of all desire!
All that you would, you are & that’s the crown
Of the craving,
You are slaves of the wormwood star.
Analysed, reason was raving---feeling, examined, was pain.
What Heaven were to hope for a doubt of it!
Life is anguish, insane; death is---not the way out of it.

I won't say Enjoy,


  1. Here's to Mother Jim. Though I never met him, we've shared the same mistress.

    All ages. Bottled, corked. Svelte and ripened.

    Under the bridge, and over it.

  2. I can't argue with the observation. Leaping for oblivion is not the way out. Sometimes, though, the way is not so brightly lit.

  3. Hey, that ain't no way to say goodbye!
    That's a hard way to lose a friend.

  4. GcJzRVe1h7_vLZ6Xboz5XGa3fYtovBgu8nHvhlnfFWo